King Col is a very steep mess of terrain with hard packed dirt scattered along crumbly granite faces. There are small rocks that make the slope even more unstable to stand on. Every step down is an exercise in how close you’re willing to come to being smashed into sausage as you tumble down the slope.
— RoguePhotonic/SierraTopix


John Muir Wilderness & Kings Canyon National Park, CA, USA


~62 miles on-trail, ~12 miles off-trail

TOTAL CLIMB (& Descent): ~23,370' 

DAYS: 9   SEASON: Late September


Taboose Pass

Map: Tom Harrison Kings Canyon High Country Trail Map
GuideBooks: The High Sierra: Peaks, Passes, Trails by RJ Secor & Kings Canyon National Park by Mike White from Wilderness Press
An interesting comparison trip: Gardiner Basin in 1996 by Charles Hayden 

Day 1 - Taboose Pass Trailhead Corral - 5.8 mi On-trail | Total Climb 4710' | Total Descent 1609'

Day 2 - Lower Taboose Creek Crossing - 14.7 mi On-trail | Total Climb 6378' | Total Descent 4054'

Day 3 - Twin Lakes - 13.6 mi ON-trail |  Total Climb 3784' | Total Descent 3792'

Day 4 - Rae Lakes - 2.9 Mi Unmaintained trail + 3.7 mi Off-trail | Total Climb 2497' | Total Descent 2021'

Day 5 - Upper Gardiner Basin over King Col - 5.9 mi off-trail + 1 mi on-trail | Total Climb 2249' | Total Descent 4787'

Pro Tip: We do NOT recommend using King Col without technical gear despite its "Class 2" rating by Secor due the extremely steep, narrow, and loose upper chute on the north side. We won't make this mistake twice! We'll share several pictures here since we were unable to find any when considering the route for our trip. Since then, we found Roger Lilly's pics which give a better view of the top, steep section (the snow wasn't all the way across on our trip) where we were too busy surviving to snap any shots. There's now also a detailed King Col post on High Sierra Topix, and we wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment expressed there ("every step down is an exercise in how close you're willing to come to being smashed into sausage as you tumble down the slope"). In summary, King Col is generally to be avoided.

Day 6 - Woods Creek Jct - 12.5 mi on-trail | Total Climb 4314' | Total Descent 2296'

Day 7 - Bench Lake / Arrow basin day-hike - 2.7 mi off-trail | Total climb 588' | Total descent 588'

Day 8 - Bench Lake - 6.7 mi on-trail | Total climb 1276' | Total Descent 2203'

Day 9 - Upper Taboose Creek Pine Grove - 5.7 mi on-trail | Total Climb 566' | Total Descent 5020'